12 September 2023

New training centre aims to give healthcare workers hands-on experience (and keep them in the region)

| Claire Sams
Start the conversation
People standing around a hospital bed with a doll infant lying on its back

State MP for Bega Dr Michael Holland (second from left) helped to officially open the new simulation and training centre in Bega. Photo: Supplied.

Students and healthcare workers have access to a new simulation and training centre in a move designed to bring more doctors to rural and regional areas.

At South East Regional Hospital in Bega, the centre gives students and hospital staff a space in which to practise procedures and emergency scenarios under supervision in a hospital ward.

NSW Minister for Regional Health Ryan Park joined Member for Bega Dr Michael Holland on Thursday (7 September) to officially open the facility.

Mr Park acknowledged that attracting and keeping healthcare workers of all kinds was a statewide concern.

“When people ask me, ‘What keeps you up at night?’, without a doubt it’s staffing,” he said.

“What we do know from workforce data and workforce trends is that our young professionals are looking for a place where there is ongoing professional development and training opportunities.

“To have this facility in a great district in regional and rural NSW is something I’m really proud of.”

READ ALSO Natural attraction: Cooma Hospital upgrade to showcase region’s beauty through local artists’ works

Dr Holland said there was a need to attract medical students and doctors to regional and rural areas.

“Part of it is to get medical students here [to regional areas], particularly rural medical students, who we know have an increased chance of staying in rural areas,” he said.

“People don’t come unless they’re well trained and they don’t stay unless they’re supported.”

People standing around a hospital bed with an adult size mannequin

Minister Park (centre) said it was hoped the new facility would see more doctors training (and then working) in regional and rural NSW. Photo: Supplied.

The facility will be run in partnership with the Southern NSW Local Health District and the Australian National University (ANU).

Dr Holland said partnerships between schools and hospitals provided spaces for student learning.

“I was told that 100 [ANU] students a year come through South East Regional Hospital alone to do their training,” he said.

“That obviously doesn’t take into account the number of students that go through the Eurobodalla and other areas within the Southern New South Wales Local Health District.”

READ ALSO Doctors confident forum’s success will deliver improved rural maternity services

Mr Park said partnerships provided clear benefits for the wider society and patients.

“It’s so critical for hospitals and healthcare professionals and healthcare services to be partnered with tertiary organisations,” he said.

“It’s how we make sure that we deliver the very best health care, but it’s also how we get that translational research happening, and at the same time encouraging young people on what it’s like to be working in regional and rural medicine and healthcare areas.”

Dr Nathan Oates, visiting medical officer (VMO) anaesthetist and director of prevocational education and training at South East Regional Hospital, said he hoped the facility would attract a new generation of healthcare workers to the South Coast.

“We might get people to move to communities by training them here, but we’re going to do an even better job if we can expand how we bring students into our program,” he said.

“We’re very much reviewing what we regard as a rural pathway to try to create ways that students, out of high school, can come through.

“We can provide them with a guaranteed pathway through an undergraduate degree into a postgraduate degree, and provide them with placements into these sorts of regions throughout their training experience to keep them connected to community.

“Facilities like this obviously play a really critical role in supporting our students.”

ANU SMP Rural Clinical School received federal funding for the project through the Rural Health Multidisciplinary Training Program.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.